Review: GameStick Android video game system a less expensive alternative

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With the big game systems coming out just in time for the holidays, the sticker shock of it is tough to stomach. $400 for the Playstation 4 and $500 for the new Xbox One! Not all of us are ready to drop an investment like that into a video game system. There are other options. The GameStick is one of those options.

Hardware

The GameStick controller looks like most other video game controllers. It’s a bit larger than what you might be used to. It’s a sleek white color with a soft plastic backing. It has 2 analog control sticks, a standard 4-way controller, 4 buttons and 2 additional index finger buttons (R1 & L1) on the top. There’s also a big “>” button on the front that takes you back to the main menu.

On the back there’s a slider that will pop out the actual GameStick. The stick looks like a USB thumb drive but it plugs into an HDMI port on your TV. It will need USB power either from a USB port on your TV or from the included wall adapter. The stick is small and most users won’t even see it when it’s plugged into the back of their TV. It has a reset button and a slot for a MicroSD card for additional memory. 8GB of storage is included on the stick. That isn’t a lot considering how large some game downloads are but the MicroSD slot can accept cards up to 32GB.

Setup

Setup was simple. I powered up the controller and stuck a paperclip in the “BT Pairing” hole in the back. Within minutes I connected the controller and created an account. There are a few simple tweaks that setup will guide you through to make sure the stick is configured to work best with your TV. Once setup is finished, you’re at the home screen.

Let’s Play

The home screen is super simple and looks nothing like what you would expect from a system that is running Android. You can buy games, play games and access the Tofu media player to watch your movies and listen to your music. That’s about it. Buying games was easy and installing them just took one push of the button. Once installed they appear in the Play section.

I was very impressed with the graphics and gameplay on the GameStick. The picture was clear and the action was smooth. I tried a few different games and all of them worked well.

Games

Remember, this is an Android game system so most of the games you’ll find here are ports from your smartphone. You don’t have access to the Google Play store so you can only download and install games that are added into the GameStick store. Some smartphone games translate really well onto the big screen while others make more sense in your hand than in your living room. You’ll find mostly independent publishers right now but GameStick is working to expand the selection. Most games are $2.50 to $5.00. While some of the independent publishers are putting out amazing stuff, I’d also like to see some of the bigger publishers (EA, Disney, Sega, Rovio) added to the game selection. GameStick hasn’t said which publishers it is currently working with.

Conclusion

At only $80 for 1 controller and the GameStick, it’s almost a no-brainer for anyone looking for a living room gaming experience without dropping a ton of cash. The graphics look good, the gameplay is smooth and the GameStick providers a fun experience. Casual gamers will love the GameStick. You can’t expect the quality of gameplay or game selection that you will get with the big boy systems but if you’re looking for something to pick up and play for some quick fun, GameStick is a great option.

GameStick is available for pre-order right now for $79.99 directly from the company at Gamestick.tv or through Amazon.com and GameStop.com.

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